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Subject: Adapting Rules forum posts to help searchers rss

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The situation
The main reason I started using BGG was to look for the answers to rules questions. It's easy to find a game in the database, and easy to find the Rules forum. But if you try to find out whether the question has already been answered, it can be a pain. First of all, the number of rules threads (I'm looking at you, Agricola) can be large. Second, if you find a promising thread, it is not clear whether the question has been answered correctly. You might have to read through posts of discussion, opinion, and (if you're lucky) the designer then chips in. Or perhaps someone gives the page number in the rulebook where you missed it. Third, sometimes the answer is rock solid (designer/publisher/rulebook) and sometimes the discussion doesn't really reach a conclusion. It all takes time, and often results in new threads asking the same old questions.

Suggestion to solve
1) In just the Rules forum, reserve the first post position for "the answer". So someone posts a question. It appears below a box which says something like "Current status: unanswered". Discussion ensues as normal. Someone thinks the answer is now clear. They press a "propose" button instead of "reply". A form pops up. They fill in (again, for example) a good title for the question, the answer, and the source for the answer (and/or "confidence" level).

2) The proposed answer goes at the top of the thread (Current status: answer proposed), with the information from the proposal form and some kind of voting/modding system. If the answer is voted in, the status changes (Current status: answered). The answer appears at the top of the thread, where it's easy to see. Folks can still read and join in the discussion below.

2a) If someone comes along with a better answer (e.g. if the first answer was accepted due to e.g. "common sense" and "uncontested over some period of time", but then the designer comes along and says otherwise) a new answer can be proposed.

3) In the Rules forum views, each thread would have a colour/shape-coded icon to indicate which state the question was in.

4) The title of the thread would be the proposed or accepted submission's title, NOT the original poster's "A quick question" (ekted and jgrundy - I hope you approve!)

5) Members whose answers are voted in would receive a small amount of GG.

OK - there it is. I don't know whether it's been proposed before, but it would certainly make my rules-question-searching experience a little easier. And all of these programmers need something to do....
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Russ Williams
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Create a wiki page like Hive FAQ, Hellas FAQ, King of Siam FAQ, etc. and put a link to it in the main game article.
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Wiki pages require that someone keeps on top of updating them. I guess I'm trying to move that effort into the group, with a click to vote rather than a-cuttin' and a-pastin' and a-linkin' ...

Plus, I imagine that folks go to the rules forum first, thinking that if they don't find what they're looking for, they'll have to post there anyway. Confession: I've never used the Wiki search feature!
 
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Russ Williams
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Sothis wrote:
Wiki pages require that someone keeps on top of updating them. I guess I'm trying to move that effort into the group, with a click to vote rather than a-cuttin' and a-pastin' and a-linkin' ...

The average user may not have the energy, but all it takes is a small number of dedicated people for each game... the benefit of having all the info on a single page is clear, if someone's willing to do a little bit more work to collate it.

If you're familiar with wiki editing, it's quite simple and fast to update a wiki page.

Quote:
Plus, I imagine that folks go to the rules forum first, thinking that if they don't find what they're looking for, they'll have to post there anyway. Confession: I've never used the Wiki search feature!


That's why I suggest putting a link to it in the main game article!

That's also why I've been mentioning the wiki frequently lately; a lot of BGG users seem oblivious to it, but it's potentially a tremendous resource.
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Joe Grundy
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This would be a good idea. It's true as users we could (and in some cases do) build F.A.Q.s in wiki pages and reference them from the game pages, but that relies on the user base developing and recognising a common practise.

Where possible, the site interface should lead people into good practise and help make it easy to find things.

In fact (speaking as a designer of user interfaces and organiser of information for easy access) this is a very good idea in principle. I think I'll try to nudge Aldie's attention to this directly.
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Thanks for that, Joe. I hope Aldie sees some merit in it! I think it could work alongside FAQs and wikis, yet be very useful in its own right.
 
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Jim Cote
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Good idea. I've considered making a "Fix Your Subject!" graphic and dropping it into offending threads with a link to some FAQ, but I thought that would piss too many people off, especially those who could care less about the state of BGG.
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Tim Powers
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ekted wrote:
Good idea. I've considered making a "Fix Your Subject!" graphic and dropping it into offending threads with a link to some FAQ, but I thought that would piss too many people off, especially those who could care less about the state of BGG.


Yes, posting a graphic about perceived shortcomings in posts that some might not take well is a really bad idea.

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Jim Cote
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LOL! You must already know about: http://graphjam.com/
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Tim Powers
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No, I just cranked that out in MS Publisher real quick.

Cool site though! I will check it out.
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I'm a bit surprised there's not much reaction to this idea. Maybe I should have posted it to the Agricola forum: it seems that everyone's hanging out over there instead!

Come on people, tell me why I'm wrong!

 
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Sothis wrote:
I'm a bit surprised there's not much reaction to this idea. Come on people, tell me why I'm wrong!


Well I like the idea, however it will require a big coding job to make the rules section a unique forum type. (One that needs to be integrated semi-seamlessly.) The wiki idea posted above is nice, but that requires ongoing maintenance work on the part of the community. It might work fine for some games, but many games are never going to have enough people, who care, to do all that.

A system wide solution that puts the burden on a coder to do work one time would be useful.

Now where does this fall in importance level to all the other changes Aldie wants to make? Who knows.
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Randall Bart
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Sothis wrote:
Come on people, tell me why I'm wrong!

It's a great idea, but BGG users aren't organized well enough to do it. For an individual game, it might work, but I don't see it happening for most games.

Most games could use something like the Taluva FAQ I wrote, but even that is a lot of work.
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Russ Williams
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The problem with doing FAQs as forum posts is that only one person controls it then. Users disappear or go on vacation, or are simply flaky and unreliable. A wiki page can be updated by anyone. Especially for popular, complex, and/or poorly written games, the FAQs need continual updating. For these reasons, I am convinced that a wiki page is the way to go.

(But a forum post is still better than an uploaded file, that's unchangeable and requires a new version to be uploaded, littering the files area with various versions of the FAQ.)

As far as I know, the first wiki game FAQ at BGG was Hive FAQ. That followed the usual model: I just compiled a list of questions people had asked, with their answers, and occasional links to relevant forum threads.

Later when I started the Hellas FAQ and King of Siam FAQ, I experimented with restructuring the info so that it was in the same order as the original rules, so someone reading the rules could look in the corresponding section of the FAQ if they found something unclear. That seems like a good format; anyone else have an opinion?
 
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Russ Williams
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spearjr wrote:
The wiki idea posted above is nice, but that requires ongoing maintenance work on the part of the community. It might work fine for some games, but many games are never going to have enough people, who care, to do all that.


If no one cares enough to edit a wiki page, why would anyone care enough to edit forum posts (or do any other form of FAQ maintenance)?
 
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Joe Grundy
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The suggestion would mean that rules questions would self-organise into a significantly more searchable form. No one may care enough to create a wiki page, but no one person would need to do anything remotely "extra" or maintain a FAQ either given the OP suggestion... people already ask questions, people already answer them, and usually people read and confirm the answers. If the forum space automatically encouraged / reminded people to highlight "the best answer" and correct the thread title then many many more people would indeed do this on the spot.

At the moment there is no way to highlight the best answer to a rules question, and nothing built in to remind people to make meaningful thread titles.

The wiki page idea, while a great use of a wiki resource, requires
- active activity to "go somewhere" and "do something"
- the user base to arrive at their own common way of doing it
- participants to learn some skills
Each of these on their own are significant barriers to participation. Sure, the "skills" to edit a wiki are supposedly fairly small and it should be easy... after all we have pages and pages of info to help you! eg BoardGameGeek Wiki Style Guide, Wiki Content Guidelines, Wiki Formatting which also links externally to much larger references ...

For most of us, the prospect of (a) just finding the correct place to put these things in the first place (b) learning yet another way of doing basic text formatting (c) actively consciously writing material for a "reference library" of any sort ... are all put-offs.


I had one discussion with Aldie already on this, and indeed the coding effort for the total proposal would be large in the face of other priorities. But I've been mulling it over and I'll make one more suggestion to Aldie for a much-cut-down set of changes. At the bottom line of the original suggestion, all it needs is:
- Somehow, more people granted some mechanism to change the rules thread titles
- Some way to promote / highlight one response in a rules thread.

While the whole idea of additional forms, a new modding space, the flags and behaviour for "question not yet answered" etc is more work than is likely to get done (eg probably stacking up to a surprising week or two of effort) maybe there'd be a way to grant mini-admin rights to a wider user base to JUST (a) change rules thread titles and (b) flag one response in a rules thread to appear highlighted. (Maybe there isn't an economical way to do this either, but I do quite like the underlying original idea of improving the rules forum utility with these two mechanisms.)
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Jim Cote
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One of the challenges is that many threads cover more than one topic. This one-to-many relationship is similar to the problem solved by the way the Google Mail (and now GeekMail) tagging system works. In effect, you are creating an index to your "data". If there was a special tagging system local to each game's rules forum that would be more exposed/integrated with search, this could work nicely. I go to the search page for a game. In addition to the normal input fields, I get a drop down with all the "topics" (or maybe there's just a search cloud). In this was the post subjects can be left alone. It's up to the users to "tag" threads as to the information they contain.
 
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Joe Grundy
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... which, alas, would still rely on users coordinating their behaviours to arrive at a defacto set of standards, and learning / knowing to go out of their way to do something not specifically directed by what's in front of them.
 
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Jim Cote
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jgrundy wrote:
... which, alas, would still rely on users coordinating their behaviours to arrive at a defacto set of standards, and learning / knowing to go out of their way to do something not specifically directed by what's in front of them.

Yes, but it's an incremental system. For example, if I was searching for info about "upkeep", I could set that "tag" for any thread/post I found helpful.
 
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